Natchez 11s ready to take on Franklin Co.

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — There aren’t a lot of new faces on Gary Farmer’s 11-year-old Dixie Youth All-Star team this year.

And with practice under way for the Natchez 11s, Farmer said it’s nice having a group of players that know what’s expected of them.

“This team has been playing together for a few years, and these kids have really adapted to moving from their regular Dixie Youth positions,” Farmer said.

“They realize that, even if they played shortstop, they may be my best center fielder. And they don’t pout about it. They realize it’s a team sport and everyone can’t play shortstop.”

Practice for the 11s began June 14, and Farmer said his players have been responding to the coaching well so far.

“They’re getting better every day with what’s being requested of them, and we’re trying to get the best out of them in each aspect, whether that’s hitting, pitching, running the bases or fielding,” he said.

“We’re coming together as a team, and we’ve had two practice games against Vidalia and the Catahoula (Jonesville) 12-year-old All-Stars. We played well against them both and won each game.”

Even with summer vacations going on for families, Farmer said practice attendance hasn’t been an issue.

“They knew before practice even started what was expected of them,” Farmer said.

“Vacations have to wait. No one’s missed practices or practice games, and I have the full support of the parents. We have a great group of players that are good enough to win state and, next year, hopefully go to the (Dixie Youth) World Series.”

On Thursday, the 11s held one more practice before their game against Franklin County tonight at 6.

“We’re ready to roll. Our boys are fired up, and I feel like they have it in them. They’re ready to get the uniforms on and hit the field,” Farmer said.

But Franklin County is not a team to be taken lightly, Farmer warned.

“They beat us once last year. They have a very good, well-coached team. They have a good fastball pitcher with a good offspeed pitch, and a lefty who also has a good offspeed pitch,” he said.

“They’re well-coached, and they know what to expect, so it will be a tough game. And I may be wrong, but I think the two best teams (in the 11-year-old tournament) will play (tonight) in Franklin County and Natchez.”